While Raiders fans search for clues about the future whereabouts of their team, owner Mark Davis might have provided the biggest of all.
“The world is a possibility for Raider Nation,” Davis said.
The world? Hmmm.
If the Chargers seize the opportunity to join the Los Angeles Rams in Inglewood, soon to be the Disneyland of the NFL, then the Raiders won’t have that as a first option. Let’s say Chargers owner Dean Spanos doesn’t do something incredibly stupid and pass up the chance to move from San Diego to greener pastures. In that case, here is Balls’ early line on the next Raiders destination:
Las Vegas: Yep, just what the NFL needs — Fixgate. Odds: 200-1.
Oakland: There’s no there there. There’s no football-only facility or money to build one there, either. So can we kindly move on once and for all? Odds: temporary home next season, 10-1; permanent home, 25-1.
Portland: It’s the 28th-largest city in the country. Plus, Pride and Poise could remain in the AFC West here. But in the corporate standings, Rip City is Blip City. It has only two companies among the Fortune 500, one local bank among the nation’s top 50 and virtually no hope of building a state-of-the-art facility. Odds: 100-1.
San Antonio: Another mid-sized market without an NFL-caliber stadium, though the Alamodome could serve in the case of a holding pattern next season while Davis builds a home on land he owns between San Antonio and Austin. And wouldn’t Cowboys moneybags Jerry Jones and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair have something to say about a third team in the heart of Texas? Odds: temporary home, 5-1; permanent home, 25-1.
San Diego: If and when the Bolts bolt, the city would be more inclined to sweeten the pot for another NFL team. But with a pair of teams in Inglewood, the Raiders would go from second fiddle in a large market to third fiddle in a larger one. And how much support would the locals give to their most bitter rivals ever? Odds: 10-1
Santa Clara: Davis would just as soon hop in bed with 49ers CEO Jed York as he would a bunch of blood-sucking leeches, but hey, it beats sleeping alone. Odds: 20-1.
St. Louis: Do you know that it has a population of less than 320,000? It’s Lexington, Ky., with an Arch and a shrinking tax base for an Achilles heel. OK, so the metropolitan area is much larger. There are only two teams that the fans have ever cared about here — the Cardinals and the Cardinals. Odds: 50-1
Now about that World . . .
With the Los Angeles issue about settled, Europe is next on the NFL expansion agenda. Regular-season games have been played there the last seven years, and plans call for a team to be in place no later than 2022. From travel to scheduling logistics to division alignment, there’s a lot to consider here. A move won’t happen overnight, but a team will be in London in the near future for no other reason than whatever the NFL wants, the NFL gets.
So why not the Raiders? (Odds: 8-1.)
As the first and only major professional sports team outside North America, the Raiders would own a country that has a fan base of 13 million people. They could play in a temporary home in the U.S. while plans are finalized overseas. Or they could play a split schedule of, say, four games here, four games there at least for a while. Because if the Raiders don’t jump at the opportunity, someone like the Jacksonville Jaguars will beat them to it soon.
REST OF THE STORY: The Raiders might have to pay a naming rights fee, but that wouldn’t be a problem. That’s right — the London Raiders exist already. They’re the English National Ice Hockey League team that recently lost its rink to a supermarket development, had its coach keel over and their owner walk away in a matter of weeks.
And you thought Davis had it so bad?
RETURN TO SENDER: Now that Marshawn Lynch has played his final game in a Seattle Seahawks uniform, the first thing Balls would do as Raiders general manager is inquire about his physical condition and what it might take to bring him home … assuming home is still Oakland, which it probably isn’t.
The Raiders need to establish a power game to take some heat off quarterback Derek Carr and the defense. If reasonably healthy, Lynch is a guy who can move the pile.
Granted, Lynch has lots of mileage for a 29-year-old. (He played in only eight games this season.) But if his abdomen problem isn’t a career-ender and the price isn’t more than a late-round draft pick, the Cal product is worth the risk.
NOT HIM AGAIN: It may be only late January, but it’s never too early for NFL mock drafts.
In the first of many stabs to come, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., draft expert, has wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (Mississippi) headed to the Niners at the No. 7 pick and offensive tackle Jack Conklin (Michigan State) bound for the Raiders at the 14th selection.
Kiper has been wrong before, of course, and when he predicts Cal quarterback Jared Goff will be sacrificed to the Cleveland Browns at the No. 2 pick, some of us can only hope he’s wrong again.
WHO ARE THESE GUYS?: Balls called it, all right. The Warriors are frauds.
Two losses in three games? Can’t do better than a 37-4 record overall? That’s it — they’re done. Trade Stephen Curry for nine first-round draft picks.
But seriously, when was the last time the Warriors had a week as bad as the last one?
First, the organization announced that, because of litigation against the project, the planned move to Mission Bay won’t take place until 2019 at the earliest. Then the Champs sleep-walked through losses against the Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons on the road.
Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs have forgotten how to lose and trail the Warriors by only one and a half games. That’s important for this reason: The two are on a collision course to meet in the Western Conference finals and homecourt advantage may be crucial in the series. The two teams are a combined 43-0 at home this season.
Yet the biggest concern is the health of Steve Kerr, who still hasn’t coached a game this season.
The prognosis is the same as it was months ago — Kerr has good days and bad days — which kind of makes one wonder if there’s more to it. Now the report that he may not return until after the All-Star break doesn’t seem far-fetched at all. For his sake, let’s pray that Kerr returns to good health — period.
TAKE A HIKE, RAFFI: The Sharks sent our good friend Raffi Torres to their minor-league affiliate to punch his way back into shape, and real hockey fans can only hope that his bum right knee blows out before that happens. Because after nine suspensions and warnings about blows to the head from the NHL office, it’s long past time for Torres to get his own examined.
As the Anaheim Ducks’ Ryan Kesler put it earlier this season, “Same player every year. I played with the guy. He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game any more.”
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